Lately, the Diamondbacks are getting by with a little help from their friends.
On Wednesday afternoon, it was Orioles’ reliever Bud Norris who befriended Arizona.
Coveted by Baltimore just before the recent trade deadline and subsequently acquired from Houston, Norris came into the game in the 14th inning, and promptly became the D-backs’ best buddy.
Entering a tie game, Norris missed the plate on his first eight consecutive pitches and Aaron Hill made the right-hander pay dearly. Hill slapped a one-out single to center to score Gerardo Parra and that gave the Diamondbacks a 5-4 come-from-behind win over the Orioles before 19,568.
Coupled with the Reds win over the Cubs, the Diamondbacks remain five and one-half games behind Cincinnati in the National League wild card chase.
The win was the D-backs major league-best 26th victory in their last at-bat and their 35th comeback win. The victory boosted their mark in extra inning games to 12-5, and they are 27-15 in one-run games. The 27 wins is tops in the majors.
The victory was also the D-backs third straight walk-off win and they are the second team this season to accomplish the feat. It was first time since July, 2007 that Arizona managed three straight walk-off wins.
“This is not the best way to do it,” said Martin Prado, whose walked behind Parra and set the table for Hill. “Winning the last three games they way we did brings out that confidence and proves we can battle until the end. This shows all the hard work we put in pays off, but, I’ll tell you, I think we better start leading earlier in games.”
Down 4-1 in the second inning, the Diamondbacks picked up single tallies in the second and seventh to pull within one run. Then in the ninth, Hill singled in the tying run against Jim Johnson, the O’s closer. Johnson was aiming for his 40th save of the season, but instead suffered his ninth blown save.
With Norris handing out gifts in the 14th, Parra and Prado walked to open the frame. After Paul Goldschmidt struck out, Hill worked his magic.
In the process, Hill delivered his ninth career, walk-off hit and has now picked up 11 RBIs in his last seven games.
“It was a fast ball and (Norris) left it over the plate,” Hill said of the game winner. “Yes, it’s fun around here these days. Guys are finding ways to win. Just because you may not hit in one game doesn’t mean you can’t help in other ways. Contributions are coming from everyone.”
The win put the effort of starter Patrick Corbin on the back burner.
In picking up another no-decision, Corbin is now 3-3 and seven no-decisions in his last 13 starts.
While Corbin continues to perform on a consistent basis, and continues to go fairly deep into games, the wins are not there. For his part, Corbin says he’s not doing anything differently and continues to prepare with the same routine for each start.
“He could have easily picked up nine more wins,” said manager Kirk Gibson afterward. “His secondary stuff (against Baltimore) was not okay. He left a change up and that was hit out of the park.”
The home run was a reference to a bomb hit by Manny Machado with one on in the second. That put Baltimore up at 4-1, but Corbin settled down.
From that round-tripper, Corbin allowed only four runners until he was lifted after seven innings of work. In recording seven strike outs, Corbin fanned Machado twice and struck out Chris Davis, the major league home run hitter, three times.
“I had some costly mistakes early on, and paid for them,” he said. “No, I’m not worried about numbers. We have a good team here, and they picked me up (Wednesday). We haven’t played out best baseball yet this season, and have a tough road trip ahead.”
If Corbin is putting up quality starts, results on the scoreboard are not encouraging.
For the first two months of the season, Corbin was piling up victories and recorded nine wins in his first 11 starts of the baseball campaign. Now, he’s recorded only three victories since June 2.
In the 10th inning Tuesday night, Adam Eaton came up with a runner on first and one out. The diminutive outfielder hit a grounder to second baseman Brian Roberts, who flipped to shortstop J. J. Hardy for one at second and the return to Chris David at first turned a double play.
Eaton did not run out the grounder, and for his lack of effort, was benched for Wednesday’s afternoon game with the Orioles.
“If I had another player available at the time, I would have taken (Eaton) out immediately,” manager Kirk Gibson said before Wednesday’s game. “He’s a great kid, but you can’t forget you’re in the big leagues. You can’t do that. Look, he cares and he still has a little to learn. He’ll be back in there shortly.”
Against right-hander Chris Tillman, Eaton would have been in the line-up. Instead, Gibson started Martin Prado in left field and Matt Davidson at third.
WELCOME TO THE SHOW, KID
While the excitement of joining a major league team has barely registered, rookie third baseman Matt Davidson says he’s overwhelmed by the experience.
In starting his first game in the bigs Wednesday afternoon, Davidson picked up his initial major league RBI and finished the 14 inning affair with a 2-for-6 afternoon.
Prior to his start, Davidson indicated he’s in an unique position. While the learning curve can be steep, Davidson’s relaxed disposition appears to serve him well.
“I’ve learned to take what they give you,” he said before Wednesday’s game. “Stay within yourself and try and play my game.”
Right now, Davidson is transitioning to the major league level, and says there exists only slight differences between the Double A level, the Triple A and the major leagues.
“The biggest difference I found is that the players at the major league level are more consistent,” he pointed out. “Sure, there are better players up here, but in the end, I’ll play my game.”
So far, so good.
Davidson drove in his first major league run in the first inning Wednesday. With runners on first and third and two outs, he sent a hard grounder down the line at third. O’s third baseman Manny Machado gloved but his throw to first to get Davidson was late, and Gerardo Parra scored.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
The Diamondbacks depart on perhaps their most important road trip of the season.
Of 10 games on the slate, Arizona has seven against National League Central opponents, including four at Cincinnati.
With the Dodgers now beyond the range of vision, post-season hopes lay in gaining a Wild Card spot. Starting Friday night in Pittsburgh, the D-backs are five and one-half games behind the Reds in the NL wild card race.
The trip starts out against the NL Central-leading Pirates at PNC Park. Brandon McCarthy (2-6, 4.76 ERA) opens the series Friday night against the Bucs’ right-hander Gerret Cole (5-5, 3.95 ERA). On Saturday, Trevor Cahill, who is expected to come off the disabled list, gets the ball from manager Kirk Gibson. Cahill is 3-10, 4.66 ERA, and takes on lefty Jeff Locke (9-5, 2.42 ERA).
In the Sunday finale, Wade Miley (9-8, 3.65 ERA) goes against righty Charlie Morton (4-5, 3.79 ERA).
Then, it’s on Great American Ball Park for four against the Reds and the trips ends in Philadelphia for three with the Phillies.
The D-backs then return to Chase Field for a nine game home stand against the Padres, Giants and Blue Jays.